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Lohan Presencer hits out at pub company
A CAMPAIGN to rescue a small Bourne End pub is being backed by the man leading efforts to save an iconic London nightclub.
As chief executive of the Ministry of Sound, Lohan Presencer has spent the last three years fighting a property development which could threaten the future of the south London nightclub.
But away from his day job the Hedsor resident recently helped launch a campaign closer to home – to save the Garibaldi pub from permanent closure.
Owner Punch Taverns has put the freehold up for sale for £425,000 - with an estate agent advertising its potential for residential conversion.
Mr Presencer told the Bucks Free Press: "It’s a very familiar situation in my working life and now my home life as well.
"There’s a lot more to a local area than just houses - the places where people go out to spend time are just as important. And it’s a wonderfully unique pub... It’s where the street lives."
"It’s very sad that through a lack of investment this pub has been allowed to fall into such a state of disrepair and subsequently close.
"The owners, Punch Taverns, are not focussed on community pubs like the Garibaldi which offer so much to local residents, their business model is different."
According to weekend press reports, Punch is struggling to cope with £2.3 billion debts amassed during a "boom-era acquisition drive".
The firm, which owns 5,000 pubs across the country, was reportedly once valued at £3 billion, but its stock market value is now just £41m.
Punch did not wish to respond to Mr Presencer's comments.
But when asked if the company's debts are related to the sale of the Garibaldi, a spokesman replied: "Punch carried out a strategic review of our estate several years ago and identified a core of 3,000 pubs which we believe are the best quality leased pubs in the UK.
"We also identified a number of pubs which did not have a long term future within the estate which we have been selling at a rate of 400 per year for the last few years. The Garibaldi is one of these pubs and therefore is being marketed for sale."
• The Garibaldi has been temporarily reopened since the closure, with pub operator All Our Bars taking on a flexible, short-term lease.
All Our Bars says it may consider bidding to buy the pub if things go well, but campaigners are still looking at the possibility of buying the Garibaldi as a community venture (see related links).